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Trump administration to consider letting workers take Social Security benefits early due to COVID-19

The proposal is being criticized by social security advocates

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Photo (c) Xesai - Getty Images
The Trump administration is reportedly considering a proposal that would let workers take Social Security retirement benefits before they’re eligible to receive them in exchange for delayed benefits later. 

According to the Washington Post, senior administration officials are considering one proposal that would let Americans take up to $5,000 from Social Security now to give consumers access to more money during the COVID-19 pandemic. In exchange, borrowers would need to agree to delay their benefits in the future. Workers typically have to be at least 62 and have worked and paid into the system for at least ten years in order to collect benefits. 

The proposal was crafted by Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute and Joshua Rauh of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Under the plan, the $5,000 given now would be structured as a loan with a government-established interest rate that would reimburse the Social Security trust fund with interest. 

White House officials have also "discussed the 'Eagle Plan,' a 29-page memo that called for an overhaul of federal retirement programs in exchange for upfront payments to some workers,"  according to the Post. 

"The proposal calls for giving Americans $10,000 upfront in exchange for curbing their federal retirement benefits, such as Social Security,” the Post said. 

Social security advocates call it a ‘harebrained idea’

Social Security advocates say the Eagle Plan would "force people to choose” between going hungry today or working until they die. 

"The Trump administration is obsessed with using the coronavirus crisis to undermine our Social Security system," Alex Lawson, executive director of advocacy group Social Security Works, said in a statement.

"Social Security is an earned insurance benefit. It is not a piggy bank. This plan, and any plan that raids Social Security, is a moral abomination. Instead of trying to steal the earned benefits of desperate people, the government should be sending $2,000 a month to everyone in America, as Democrats in Congress have proposed."  

Meanwhile, the plan to give Americans $5,000 from Social Security now would threaten to hurt families over the long-term, said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Asking working Americans to give up even one dime of their future Social Security benefits to survive today’s economic crisis is a harebrained idea that would hurt families for decades to come,” Fiesta said in a statement. 

About 45 million retired workers currently rely on Social Security and have average monthly benefits totaling $1,503.

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